Drilling down on: Houston 2, at Toronto 0

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Man of the Match: Anyone remember the last year when Brad Davis wasn’t right in the mix for annual MLS assist leadership? Here he is once again, tied for the lead with 10 after collecting two more Saturday at BMO. The first was on a corner kick (of course). His second was a no-look beauty where the Dynamo midfielder knew precisely where Brian Ching would be running into goal. Davis also did his part as the visitors held 60 percent of possession.

Packaged for take-away:

  • Houston has won four in a row, one short of a club record. This was also the Dynamo’s first win in Canada in 20 tries.
  • It really is such a doggone shame to see what’s happened to attendance at BMO, where so many games come and go with far too many empty seats. BMO Field was once a place where empty seats were rare as hot December days.
  • Houston’s lineup was surprisingly offensive, with Adam Moffat as the sole, true defensive-minded midfielder. He had Oscar Boniek Garcia and Davis on either side in the 4-3-3. Clearly, it was the right tactical move, based on the time of possession – and also on the result, obvisouly.
  • Toronto FC must not have gotten the memo, about not fouling Houston in dangerous spots, where Davis can whip killer balls into slick spots. Because TFC gave Davis three such opportunities in the first 20 minutes.
  • Torsten Frings really is a 35-year-old wonder. The issue is, when TFC’s glue-man midfielder wins the ball too deep in his own half, too many current teammates aren’t up for the subsequent job. That is, there’s not enough passing ability in the other three-quarters of TFC midfield, which is why Paul Mariner’s team tends to be so direct.
  • Ordinarily, leaving Moffat with so much ground to cover on his own would be dangerous, especially on the road. But the natural, defensive tendencies of Frings and Terry Dunfield centrally for TFC gave Moffat much less to deal with.
  • Just six shots combined for both teams — and just one on goal — in the game’s first 40 minutes made this one tough on the eyes.
  • The teams ended with just six shots on target combined, and just two from the home side. Yes, Mariner’s men will badly miss injured striker Danny Koevermans.
  • It was the visitors, rather than the home team, that began getting their outside backs into the attack; Warren Creavalle and Corey Ashe began to feel that Toronto was contained enough to go safely into attacking areas.
  • What a shrewd bit of work from Brian Ching on the game’s opening goal. Ching probably could have reached Boniek Garcia’s clever ball into the penalty area, possibly turning it into a half chance. But recognizing that it touched a TFC defender on the way through, he instantly adjudged that Davis corner kick would give Houston its best opportunity. Sure enough, a whip and a flick later, Calen Carr was unmarked at the back post for a 1-0 lead.
  • Houston’s Kofie Sarkodie got into the match in the 78th minute for the injured Ashe; it was the would-be Olympian’s first MLS minutes since April.
  • Speaking of young Houston outside backs, Creavalle is making the most lately of his rookie campaign, looking increasingly comfortable on either side. (He started on the right but finished  on the left Saturday once Ashe was forced out.)